It was a Friday night like any other.
I’m up late past midnight writing about an obscure communication theory I’m learning about in my Diederich College of Comm class. The whole house is quiet and I’m using this opportunity to wrap my mind around French scholar Jean Baudrillard’s theory of symbols, and applying it to my own experiences with the thumbs up button and Medium’s new claps.
Writing is thinking. It’s how I make sense of new concepts. I’ve been using Medium through graduate school to process new-to-me ideas like feminist theory and dialogic theory. Or I try to sort out my thoughts after listening to podcasts or watching Netflix.
Medium gives me that space to organize my thoughts with a blank page.
But this Friday night was different. Normally I would hit publish, go to bed and check the next day to see if I got any recommends. With any luck, I’d get maybe a few dozen readers and a couple of recommends.
This time, I hit publish, marked Medium members only, went to bed, and checked to see if I got any claps in the morning.
At first, nothing changed. My article hardly broke any traffic records.
Then my partner dashboard refreshed in the morning. I saw that my last two articles made $25.33. With a mere 39 reads and 5 claps, my article about evolving metrics made more than $9.
I’m not getting rich, nor would expect to break the bank with an article that gets read by 39 people.
But it’s a tangible validation. It’s a real-world symbol that even if I’m not reaching a mass audience, my ideas have value and a return on investment.
If you care about your art or craft, you don’t do it for the applause. You don’t stay up after midnight working on it after everyone has gone to bed if you’re not doing it for yourself.
But experiencing a result in the real world is always an appreciated payoff.